You guessed it. After 4.5 years of being an "insulin-dependent" Type 1 diabetic, I finally went off off synthetic insulin in May 2012 and continue to enjoy mostly normal blood sugars! Much to my surprise, however, while my switch away from conventional foods and to raw foods was without question a critically important intermediary step along the way, for me, it was not the full answer. Understandably, now people regularly ask me what did make the difference. 

What follows is the answer - a comprehensive list of all the changes I made recently, and continue to make, in both lifestyle and diet. Each item may be somewhat beneficial individually, but together, they constitute a multi-front attack on the Type 1 diabetes with which I was diagnosed in January 2008. In my mind, however, this is by no means the end of the journey. I have just arrived at the place where real, meaningful healing may now begin.

As you read, explore, and maybe even experiment for yourself, please keep in mind that this program is simply what has been working for me. It is not intended as advice for anyone else, because a) we are all unique individuals with unique health concerns, and b) I am no doctor, dietitian or nutritionist; nor do I have any medical training of any kind (and thankfully, therefore, have abandoned the symptoms-only perspective). That said, I trust this information will find its way to where it can be most helpful. Please watch for links to future blogs to be added soon to this page as well, as I continue to post them in regard to my experiences with each of the items below.

Chemical-free, organic cooked vegetables make up the 70% majority of what I eat these days. Why cooked, you ask, when raw veggies are richer in living enzymes? Well, it turns out that in order to absorb those enzymes, we require minerals, for increased cell permeability among other things. The problem is (thanks to the sad state of much of our farming soil) most of us are lacking those necessary minerals, and so we must shift our priorities in order to obtain them. For, as I am coming to understand, it is only when we acquire the proper minerals that we can get true nourishment from foods. Then it becomes a question of which foods nourish best, and that's where vegetables come in. I understand them to have greater mineral content than most other foods, and cooking them helps make those nutrients easier to digest and more bio-available. (Ever notice how fibrous and grassy cow dung still is, even after having been through four stomachs?!) Usually I'll steam or sautee my veggies, but once in a while I may attempt a baked dish. Broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onion and cabbage are some of my mainstays. I'll even enjoy some non-GMO organic corn from time to time. Mostly, though, I choose root vegetables like parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, radishes, carrots, celery root and golden beets because of all that time they spend marinating in the dirt, where the minerals are. I generally do not consume potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams or red beets, however, mostly due to their starchiness and/or negative impact on my blood sugar. And as a general rule, I avoid any vegetables containing seeds - those that may be classified as fruit, like tomatoes and eggplant. I also tend not to eat vegetables that are considered more "yin" by nature, like zucchini, squash, bell peppers and mushrooms. I typically enjoy my veggies with simple condiments like raw butter and sea salt, a variety of spices like curry, cumin or a dash of cayenne pepper, pesto that I make myself, or other more experimental low-carb, unsweetened sauces I've created. What a fun challenge to find creative ways to work more vegetables into the diet! Watch for a new Recipes page to be added shortly.

For me, having a small amount (about 5 ounces) of animal protein with every meal seems to help steady my blood sugar and regulate hunger throughout the day. I eat mostly locally farmed and chemical-free organic, free-range eggs (scrambled or poached, but always with runny yolks) and chicken (sometimes ceviche style, but sometimes sauteed), chemical-free grass-fed lamb or beef (sometimes as tartare, but often lightly cooked), and occasional high-grade sardines. Sardines offer an abundance of helpful nutrients but with less risk of the mercury contamination and genetic modification now affecting larger fish like salmon, tilapia and tuna, for example. Raw dairy is also a staple in my daily menu, though I'm currently limiting my daily intake (at about 6 ounces) more to goat products (like cheese & yogurt) over cow products, as I learn more about and work to correct the dairy addiction I've probably had my whole life. Furthermore, I avoid pork due to parasites that even cooking doesn't kill, and soy (in any form, with the exception of organic miso) because I understand it to be harmful to thyroid function.

3. LOW CARBS, NO SWEETS, NO DUH  (Read blog on this)*
This is a tough one, no doubt - even though it makes total sense - but when it comes to my diabetes, at the moment it's very often just a simple choice between eating bread or fruit or honey (regardless of how gluten-free, organic or raw they may be) OR reattaching my insulin pump... And it's pretty easy NOT to want to go back on synthetic insulin. Now as my body heals, I expect it will eventually be better able to tolerate some of these items. And thought it's true my blood sugar has been coming back down to normal all on its own without the synthetic insulin, I'd simply rather not tax my body unnecessarily at the moment. (I figure after about 30 years of poor dietary choices, I can stomach a few months of nutritional TLC.) For the moment, however, vegetables are the main source of my carbohydrate intake. And during those those now rare times I do feel overcome by a sweets craving, I'll suck on just one or two dried prunes, and maybe have them with a couple small spoons full of raw or roasted almond butter. As some of us already know, sugar addiction withdrawals can be monstrously mean, and this little trick (with the help of proper mineral supplementation, of course) certainly helps take the edge off!

Even though I'm consuming all those cooked vegetables, I understand our farming soil to be largely inadequate and lacking in the array of minerals my body requires for routine healthy function. As such, every day with food, I take between 2 and 3 servings of several different high grade, non-toxic, food-based, bio-available minerals, all recommended specifically for me, based on the results of my recent Hair Mineral test. Together with my dietary changes, these minerals are meant to address my own unique mineral imbalances, as my other lifestyle shifts (regular saunas, enemas, etc.) work to rid my body of toxic levels of heavy metals like mercury, iron and copper. (Heavy metal distribution is another bit of information revealed by the Hair Mineral test.) **For those of you who - like me, at the beginning - think making all these changes seems impossible (especially resisting food cravings), I will say that getting support from the appropriate minerals has been tremendously helpful. Since starting on the minerals, my cravings are fewer and farther between, and my commitment to healing is exponentially reinforced. Even if I were doing none of the rest of these processes, I would be taking my minerals!! If I were choosing again how to begin my healing journey again, I'd start with the Hair Mineral test without question. Ultimately, it's what has kicked my healing journey into high gear, after I'd thought my progress had plateaued.

Immediately upon rising each morning, and again just before bedtime, I spend 20-30 minutes in my near-infrared sauna. I make sure I drink plenty of water both before and after each sauna session, where my body has been re-learning how to sweat. In the sauna is also where I first began to see dramatic drops in blood sugar that were unrelated to exercise or insulin. One day it fell from 165 to 101 after just 20 minutes in the sauna, and I was disconnected from my insulin pump the entire time. What I'm beginning to understand is that sweating in a sauna is not like sweating during a workout. Because it works with the body in a parasympathetic state (from a place of rest), rather than in a sympathetic state (from a place of rigorous activity), the skin becomes active as an eliminative organ. As I understand it, the sauna draws the blood out from its usual "yin" hiding place at the core of the body and with the increased circulation, forces the excretion of toxins through the skin with the sweat. And man, oh man, do I sweat! In this way, the liver and the kidneys get some much needed help in their eliminative functions. Of course, as a result of all the sweating I'm now showering twice a day as well, using a long-handled scrub brush to assist in both exfoliation and in washing away the toxins. Then I'm sure to relax or lie down for about 15-20 minutes, to ensure I get the maximum healing benefits of the sauna therapy... And that's in addition to the clearer complexion and softer skin!

I've never really cared for the *taste* of coffee, so this arrangement works pretty well. I regularly do two 15-minute retention enemas daily. The first happens after showering from my first sauna, in that post-sauna rest/relax time I mentioned above. The second happens usually no later than about 5pm each day. The primary reasons for this are a) some time has passed by then since I last ate, and b) coffee can have "awakening" effects even if you're not drinking it; I like to be sure I can fall asleep easily at night. I use about 16 ounces each time of organic, dark-roast coffee that is NOT decaffeinated. Because coffee naturally contains caffeine, for me, the process of decaffeination is simply an additional [and undesirable] step away from nature.

Poor hydration, I'm told, is common among diabetics. Drinking enough water has been a struggle for me in the past, but my efforts are improving. I drink at least 64 ounces of water daily, and I have about 48 ounces in the morning, all before breakfast. The breakdown looks like this: I have 32 ounces upon rising and before my first sauna, 8 ounces immediately after the sauna before showering, and then another 8 ounces immediately after showering. Then I drink about 8 ounces every hour throughout the day when possible, up until bedtime, when I'll have another 8 just before sleep. One thing I don't do, however, is have liquids with meals, except as necessary to take my mineral supplements. As I understand it, liquids can complicate digestion by diluting stomach acids. As such, I try to allow at least 2 hours after meals before drinking liquids, and at least 30 minutes after drinking liquids before eating. I'm told that clean spring water, from a trusted source, is best for maximum hydration.

Ideally, I'd be having 12 ounces of carrot juice per day - for the calcium. But because I'm diabetic, carrot juice tends to spike my blood sugar. I'm still a big fan of fresh veggie juice, however, and so I'll mix my carrot juice with celery and cucumber so that my blood sugar does not rise as much. The ratios are 4 ounces carrot juice, 4 ounces cucumber juice and 6 ounces celery juice. Sometimes, though, it seems more prudent to skip the carrot entirely and just have cucumber and celery juices, with a little lemon so that it's more palatable.

Each day varies, but I make sure to take at least 20 minutes to one hour of quiet time for calming and focusing my otherwise wild mind. The easiest time and place to do this is while I'm in the sauna. I put on some nice root chakra-based music and then work primarily with downward moving energy, or "yang" energy in Chinese medical terms. It's been helping to relax my body and ultimately encourage its healing. 

Better than just adequate sleep and relaxation time is essential during healing, because sleep time is when the body does most of its healing work. At least 10 hours per night were recommended for me. And though my mind wants to fight it and insist I be more like my usual, active self, right now my body tells me there's simply no way around it. I have to rest... It's not an option. My guess is that most of us could use more rest. In a culture that tends to glorify a busy, over-active lifestyle, most of us are out of gas and running our adrenals dangerously low. I know mine are exhausted... And so I rest, as often as I can, without judging myself for it.

While the body's healing, it actually seems to need more rest than exercise. This is why the majority of my activity these days includes at most daily walks (about 30-45 minutes at a moderate pace), a weekly hike and occasional yoga. As mentioned above, vigorous exercise can move the body from the parasympathetic (healing) state, to the sympathetic (fight or flight) state. And since healing is the goal... Well, you understand.

Our world is toxic enough without putting harmful chemicals directly on or into our bodies. From toothpaste and shampoo and contact lens solution, to deodorants and perfumes, to dish soap and other household cleaners, changes had to be made - gradually, for me. This certainly was no overnight fix. But as I began to remember that the skin is a permeable organ and easily absorbs whatever is put on it, it became good practice never to use ON my body what I wouldn't want IN my body. And in that sense, I strive to do as little harm as possible and have taken great care in selecting hygienic products that don't add to the toxicity my body's already fighting. Many health food stores offer alternative hygienic products well worth considering. For my part, I use coconut oil in place of body lotion and bar soap made from goat's milk. In any case, a little research, perhaps even into more LOCAL products, can go a long way toward improving overall health.

This is something I practice now not only with others, but with myself. Like most of us, I'm guessing, I can be my own worst critic, and when I don't measure up to what I've come to expect of myself, probably the least useful thing I can do is dwell on my error or berate myself. Everything I've listed above would have considerably less effect, I think, were I not to have learned by now that the healing process is just that... a process. To expect overnight success in any such task might be called insane. And I'd rather NOT make myself crazy! 

To learn more about why all these practices together become both useful and effective, or for more information on how to begin your own healing journey (regardless of your location), please visit Inspiring Health's web page on Hair Mineral Analysis